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It Will Take Months to Process Ohio’s Jobless Appeals Backlog

The state’s Department of Job and Family Services has predicted that it will take until early December to issue a ruling on the massive backlog of unprocessed unemployment benefits appeals.

(TNS) — Ohio’s unemployment system said Wednesday it’s continuing to work through a massive backlog of unprocessed benefits appeals, though it predicted that it will take until early December to issue a ruling on most of them.

Between July 29 and Sept. 13, the number of unemployment benefits appeals awaiting a determination from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services dropped by about 25 percent, from 177,500 to about 134,000, according to a department release. Of those 134,000 outstanding appeals (which include appeals for both traditional and special coronavirus unemployment benefits), about 111,700 were more than 21 days old, the release stated.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, ODJFS has issued decisions on more than 368,000 benefits appeals, according to the release. By comparison, Ohio usually made about 45,000 such appeals decisions – which ODJFS calls “redeterminations” – in a typical year prior to the pandemic.

ODJFS is now conducting bi-weekly forecasts of incoming appeals to help manage efforts to reduce the number of pending appeals, according to the department. “Based on current volume of appeals, rate of processing, projected staffing and overtime levels, and other factors, the department is currently forecasting that most redeterminations will be issued by early December,” the release stated.

The state’s delays in processing claims appeals during the pandemic sometimes last for a very long time. In July, a Franklin County judge gave ODJFS 21 days to process an appeal filed by one Ohio resident who went bankrupt after spending months arguing with the department about whether he qualified for benefits.

ODJFS Director Matt Damschroder, in a statement, said during the past 18 months, his department has processed more than 6.6 million initial claims and paid billions of dollars in traditional and federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits to about 2.4 million Ohioans – about one-fifth of the state’s population.

“Naturally, that unprecedented volume has also resulted in greater numbers of appeals, which we are working to process,” Damschroder stated.

Ohio employers or employees who disagree with ODJFS’ initial decision about whether to accept or reject an unemployment claim can file an appeal. The department may then either issue a redetermination or send the matter directly to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission, an independent administrative agency that holds hearings on disputed unemployment compensation issues.

The release also stated that ODJFS still hasn’t finished setting up a system to reimburse victims of unemployment account takeovers by scammers. State officials are also currently working on a process to approve requests for waivers from Ohioans who were told they had to repay the state for benefits they were mistakenly given either because of an error by state officials or their employers.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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